LETTER: Macklin's government berates NT over liquor policies, but funded the purchase of three booze shops, says Tollner


Sir – Federal Minister Jenny Macklin’s hypocrisy knows no bounds.
While berating the Northern Territory for its handling of alcohol policy, Minister Macklin has previously approved the purchase of three liquor licences in Alice Springs.
The three outlets – Northside, Eastside and Flynn Drive IGAs – were all purchased with a grant of $6,437,200 from the Aboriginal Benefits Account by the Lhere Artepe, the local native title owners.
These three liquor licences are still in operation in Alice Springs and provide alcohol to Indigenous people. When they were purchased Minister Macklin knew that these liquor outlets would be supplying alcohol to the local Indigenous people yet she still authorised the grant.
She has a real hide to now come out slagging off the Northern Territory when she herself has been a part of purchasing liquor licences in that town.
The damage being done by alcohol is obvious but alcohol abuse is just a symptom of a much deeper problem and it is wrong to solely blame the liquor industry.
Alcohol is something that people turn to; similar to illicit drugs and petrol sniffing, when they are feeling hopeless and have no meaning in their lives.
What our Government is about is providing balance and hope. This includes addressing alcohol abuse, providing pathways to education and employment and growing private enterprise in remote areas demonstrating that life is not just about government cheques in the mail.
When people have purpose in their lives they will not rely on alcohol to drown out their appalling situation.
Jenny Macklin needs to get on board and assist us in dealing with these difficult issues rather than taking pot shots at some of the most highly regulated pubs in the world.
David Tollner
NT Minister for Alcohol Rehabilitation and Policy
[ED – The Alice Springs News Online has reported extensively about the purchases of these shops. Google this site.]


  1. The NTG Minister for Alcohol Rehabilitation and Alcohol Policy should have his portfolio retitled Alcohol Rehabilitation and Alcohol Industry Support Policy. That’s far more accurate.
    The three liquor licences he refers to do serve non-Indigenous people as do all the other licenses which the CLP granted during their tenure over the past forty years.
    It’s that sort of policy that the NTG Minister now turns on the Federal Minister and accuses her of hypocrisy. As Warren Mundine has noted, it’s the old blackfeller political football that the NTG Minister is kicking, which leaves me in no doubt as to the racist nature of his remarks and therefore confident that he is off the mark.
    The NT Minister also appears to absolve the alcohol industry of any social responsibility, e.g., failure to place health warnings on its products so that the Federal Government has to step in this year and mandate some kind of deterrent to the increasing levels of alcohol that have been creeping up the scale in products over the past twenty years.
    Or the social positivism of the industry’s advertising campaigns, promoting a lifestyle that too often ends in the Emergency Room of a hospital, the roadside attendance of the police, or a knock on the door late at night, but negativism is considered wowserism, rather than wisdom.
    The West Australians continue to gather data in terms of white youth binge drinking, but as in the removal of the BDR, the NTG is not generous in pursuit of upmarket alcohol misuse statistics. It’s all so one-sided in apportioning blame, Minister.
    The social flow-on from the NTG alcohol policy is destined to bankrupt the Territory, according to Bob Beadman as reported in the Alice Springs News Online recently.
    It’s unfortunate that the NTG Minister doesn’t realise the economic aspects of his policy direction in leaving the supply tap turned up seven days a week and discarding the use of any repressant leverage like many other jurisdictions awash with alcohol social problems. You can’t rehabilitate them all, but you can cut supply. Ask not for whom the bell tolls.

  2. This same group owns nearly all IGA stores Australia wide. And all funded it seems by Australian government funds. Our tax payer dollars. So the question is how much funding from the tax payers purse how much land that belongs to all Australians is going to be given away to Aboriginal [interests] when we see here and so many other places human suffering and homelessness. If the stats were counted it would appear to be in the order of millions per year to everyone stating Aboriginality. So why is there still a problem on the streets? Time for accountability?
    How much spent on specific Aboriginal funded projects and programs in the last five years and how many Aboriginals actually living in the Territory. Save and Erwin: There is some homework for you both. Accountability.
    How much spending per person including royalties from mining and other and NGO related programs Aboriginal specific.
    And then add welfare spending in separate area so that Australians everywhere at all walks of life see and understand the reasons behind cutting single parent payments.
    Except to you guessed it Aboriginal parents. In communities.
    The reason why Feds cannot assist aged pensioners to a higher level of living except below the poverty level.
    Questions need to asked and answered. Let’s see Dave, have the guts to make real spending by NT government and federal and put into print for Territorians to see.
    And then the likes of Julia Gillard, Russell Guy and others will stop screaming for more funding.
    Along with our Territory Government wasting monies on Aboriginal specific issues that are over funded.
    Time for this government to distance itself from further promotion of segregation in the Territory and provide funding that is inclusive of all Territorians with no regard to race or religion.

  3. Name an instance where I have been “screaming” for “more funding”, Janet. Let’s see you back that with some facts.
    Although, I am seeking a bipartisan solution, I am happy to be associated with Julia Gillard in calling for accountability in alcohol supply and, to use Robyn Lambley’s words, “stem the flow of alcohol” (Aust. 6/2/13).
    In the circumstances, with evidence laid on the table almost every other day revealing the dark side of over-supply, it’s the decent thing to do.
    I wish there were more Australians calling for the financial and mortality statistics and that there were more governments prepared to censor the alcohol industry’s perceived right to peddle a restricted drug without accountability.
    The so-called “responsible service of alcohol” is Gillard’s right as the elected Prime Minster to investigate, or are you happy being part of a drug-dealing cover-up?
    Perhaps, when Bob Beadman’s prophecy of NT bankruptcy under NTG alcohol policy is fulfilled, you might understand the basic issue of alcohol misuse which is sapping taxpayers, black and white.

  4. Great to have Janet back, fighting fit, incoherent and mixed up as ever, after a summer break.
    Janet (Posted February 10, 2013 at 10:53 am) seems to be under the crazy impression that our local native title holders, through their business attached to Lhere Artepe Aboriginal Corporation (LAAC), “owns nearly all IGA stores Australia wide. And all funded it seems by Australian government funds. Our tax payer dollars.”
    Janet is incorrect in two ways here.
    First, the money granted to LAAC to help it buy the three local IGAs came from the Aboriginal Benefit Account (ABA), not from consolidated tax revenue. The ABA consists of funds from which Aboriginal people in the NT are entitled to apply for grants to carry out projects that benefit their communities. The money in the ABA fund is part of the mining royalties which accrue from mining activities on Aboriginal lands under the Aboriginal Land Rights Act (NT).
    Secondly, I have never heard any talk about LAAC or its companies owning IGA stores outside Alice Springs.
    Although it would be wonderful if it were true that LAAC owns IGAs all over Australia, I think Janet is going to have to once again eat humble pie for getting it so badly wrong.
    The LAAC-associated company has title to just three IGAs in Alice Springs, but I don’t think it owns them outright, as I understand that it has to pay off bank loans associated with their purchase.
    I am quite happy to apologise to Janet if she proves me wrong, but I don’t think she will be able to do so.
    Readers should also note that when Jenny Macklin approved the decision by the ABA committee members to make the grant to LAAC to purchase three IGAs in Alice Springs, her agreement was subject to several provisos.
    These included a requirement that LAAC and the supermarket management abide by an agreed Alcohol Management Strategy covering the three stores.
    The agreement mandated several measures be introduced in the supermarkets in accordance with the Alcohol Management Strategy, including removal of cask wine and clean skin bottles from sale, restrictions on alcohol advertising, and the voluntary restriction of hours of alcohol trading when requested by NT Police, such as when a major event like the NAB cup game or Lightning Carnival is staged in Alice Springs.
    Minister Tollner is probably not aware of this, but if readers were customers at the three IGAs in December 2010, they may remember that the IGA managers introduced these changes immediately, and the IGAs became the first alcohol outlets in Alice to remove cask and cleanskin wines from sale, thus effectively introducing a de facto alcohol floor price in their shops.

  5. Bloody Bob Durnan! Tripping Janet up just as she was hitting her stride. Bugger the facts, Bob, Janet was set to take off. Huge windfall for LAAC owning all those IGA’s across the country! If only. Some food for thought for Dave Tollner there too, Bob, but I don’t think his diet includes reasoned argument or inconvenient facts.

  6. Janet, you seem to be about the only one nearest to “heading in the right direction” with this “Alcohol Abuse” issue.
    But there is certainly plenty of opposition! And a lot of it could be about people playing politics.
    A couple of things though if I may. First off / again it appears that all commentators and stakeholders are maybe “to close” to the issues and it is affecting their views and judgement.
    So, at this stage I’ll leave you with a quote from Homer Simpson’s mate “Carl”.
    “Alcohol is the best antidote for responsibility”.

  7. @ Arthur Bell. If some of us are “too close” Arthur, and Janet has admitted to focussing only on what she knows, i.e., the Alice CBD as opposed to life out bush, then you are surely too far away. Having read your half a dozen posts over the past twelve months on this issue, it’s a fair bet that you are not posting with your tongue firmly in your cheek.
    You appear to have missed the responsibility argument in these posts recently, whereby those, like yourself, claiming individual responsibility is solely at fault for the lamentable alcohol misuse situation in Central Australia, absolve the alcohol industry from any responsibility.
    According to this logic, we’d still be inhaling passive smoke in public places.

  8. While we are shadow boxing, both the federal and the state government make a fortune on alcohol, nation wide and in the Territory. The taxes on alcohol and the GST as well (just like with the fuel!) – how can they claim honest and good faith negotiation while only in Alice Springs with the population of 25,000 (est.) 92 liquor license exist with 72 restaurants, pubs, clubs and coffees? Don’t you think there is a problem?

  9. @ Russell Guy. February, 10. How come nobody picked me up on the fact that Julia Gillard is not the “elected” Prime Minister? What’s wrong with you mob?

  10. 4 pubs, 7 supermarkets give or take 1 or 2. The rest of the licences are clubs, sporting facilities. Restaurants. Your generalisations of over representation of liquor licences is a bit far fetched and misleading. As the say.Don’t let the truth get in the way of outright propaganda.

  11. Assume Janet’s last post is in response to “seduxen” who is criticised for using far fetched and misleading figures! Pot calling kettle black in light of her earlier post re ownership of IGA supermarkets across Australia? Propaganda indeed.

  12. Bob you need to do more reading and investigation. What I said is very true. But typical of the true laborites. Just blindly follow and believe what you are told. After all Julia and Warren would never mislead their followers.

  13. Janet (Posted February 14, 2013 at 8:34 am): I’m always more than happy to do more reading. Would you care to suggest any particular tome or document or article that you reckon might substantiate your wild-eyed allegations about the IGAs and LAAC?

  14. Janet originally said: “This same group owns nearly all IGA stores Australia wide. And all funded it seems by Australian government funds” (this same group being the LAAC).
    And now she says “Bob you need to do more reading and investigation. What I said is very true. But typical of the true laborites. Just blindly follow and believe what you are told.”
    The IGA website claims that most of their stores Australia-wide are owned by independent operators. What does Janet know that we don’t? Please explain.

  15. There are a lot of assumptions about who owns the IGAs in Alice Springs. The IGA supermarkets are owned by the Lhere Atepe Enterprise. This is and was set up as a business / financial arm for the Native Title Holders of Lhere Atepe Aboriginal Corporation (LAAC).
    How LAAC got involved with owning supermarkets and the approval of getting involved was one person’s idea. No consultations with NTH, just a CEO doing what he wanted and getting a couple of signatures to cover the purchase.
    The IGAs and the Mt Johns subdivisions are owned by Lhere Atepe Enterprise. LAAC have not participated in ay decisions to purchase these business ideas, nor do we receive and will not receive any financial benefits.
    It is about time the chair of LAE made comment on this worsening situation about what has happened. The real situation here is that Alice Springs has an alcohol problem and Aboriginal people are contributing to the lack of real investment and forward development of the town. Selling grog from three IGAs is just a part of the of the BIG problem.
    [ED – Mr Liddle is the chairman of LAAC.]


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